How Does Freezing Rain Happen?

January 26, 2015: Freezing rain is causing the roads to be pretty slippery this evening. The showers are creating a glaze of ice on untreated surfaces, so even after the showers stop, the ice will linger.  A Freezing Rain Advisory will be in effect for these conditions until Tuesday morning. If you have to do any driving tonight, slow down!

Freezing rain occurs when the layer of air near the surface is below freezing.

Freezing rain occurs when the layer of air near the surface is below freezing.

We had a change from snow this morning to freezing rain this afternoon and evening. Freezing rain works like this: Unlike snow, which can have the entire depth of the atmosphere below freezing and precipitation stays frozen all the way down, there is enough warm air that the rain drops do not freeze until they hit the surface.  There, the air is below freezing, so whatever the rain falls onto, it freezes too.  Essentially, it is raining, but the rain cause a layer of ice rather than piling up like sleet or snow.

This can cause the roads to be even more dangerous than when it is snowing. With snow, your vehicle can get some traction as the tire tread cuts into the snow, possibly even to the point that you can reach the pavement.  Freezing drizzle and rain turn the roads into an ice rink, so no matter how heavy-duty or all-terrain your vehicle is, your tires cannot grip the road as well, causing you to slip and slide. Take it easy in these conditions: do not speed, drive with caution, and increase your stopping distance between you and vehicles or intersections in front of you.

-Alex

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Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on January 26, 2015

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